Hardly an HIStalk posting goes by without an insightful commentary by The PACS Designer. TPD always seems to be up to speed on various emerging technologies, particularly in the PACS world. I was curious to learn what made him tick and was able to have a chat with him recently. Thank, TPD, for sharing your story.
Inga: How did you select the name The PACS Designer?
TPD: Since I have been working in the medical field for years and designed a PACS system in the mid-90s with some great partners, I thought, why not use the name as a blogger? I am also trying to promote PACs. Shahid Shah encouraged me to blog. I am an electronics engineer and wasn’t really working in the PACS area but found an opportunity. I got to like what I was doing and some good things happened out of it.
When did you first begin reading and posting on HIStalk?
I first started about two years ago, when Shahid Shah from Shahid’s Perspectives and creator of HITsphere told me about it. I decided to get involved with blogging. I love teaching people. In my prior job, I taught courses in PACS and other medical technologies and even did SAP software teaching.
What was it about HIStalk that interested you?
I thought the style was good, because sometimes you see blogs where the posts are very infrequent. But HIStalk had the right formula to get people to respond to the posts in the Web 2.0 sense. It promotes 2.0 through interaction. Bloggers are becoming an important part of society, as everybody knows.
What about your background has made you an expert in HIT in general and PACS specifically?
I worked with PACS behind the scenes in design. Before that, I was a purchasing manager and I always knew the latest technology. The combination of purchase evaluation decisions and designing helped me, development-wise.
I love technology. It is a small point, but in 1958 my mother bought me a transistor radio that came from Japan, made by Matshushita, now better known as Panasonic. I got so fascinated with the transistor radio that I decided to go into an electronics engineering program. I’ve been an electronics buff ever since. It is really becoming a digitally connected world and that is where healthcare needs to be.
So, what really got me into PACs goes back to the 1980s, when hospitals were using telephone technology with PACs and it was a very slow teleradiology. In the late 1980s, a company my employer partnered with discontinued their product line, so it killed our product line. I was looking for ideas for the next version of PACs and eventually hooked up with a company to design the next generation of radiology PACs.
What did you do after helping to design the radiology PACs systems?
I looked at how we could help cardiology. I designed a cardiology PACS that has had good success and is used all over the world. I am proud of both things, the radiology and cardiology products, but I am proud that the cardiology images in the cardiology PACS I designed can be viewed all over the world with the PACS I designed.
What do you do professionally today?
Today I am an independent healthcare software developer, working with major universities and vendors on the next generation of software.
Not just for PACS, but Web-enabled software solutions that are available by accessing a Web browser. No software is loaded on your PC. It’s downloaded to you just like YouTube is. Healthcare is going to see a lot more of that technique in the next 10 years.
So you are hired by the different universities to develop applications?
Yes, to do integration of DICOM, HL7, and Java technologies to create Web-based solutions for healthcare.
Do you find your current job rewarding? Fulfilling?
I love delighting my customers and really like innovation and like to pursue it with excellent partners that will make customers happy with the end result. I will be starting a major project with a Top 10 university next month. 2007 is turning out to be a transition year for technology that is going to excite end users.
I am also a member of the ASTM International. I’m a member of the E31 Health Informatics Committee that developed the Continuity of Care Record. The E31 Committee that created the CCR used the Massachusetts Patient Care Record that had been used for many years as the basis for the CCR. I am still on the committee and another health informatics committee called Privilege Management Infrastructure to design enhanced security for HIPAA so users only see information that they’re entitled to see.
HIPAA is great, but there is a lot of structure out there that needs improvement, security-wise. The ASTM PMI standard will be coming out within the next year or so.
Do you actually meet with your fellow ASTM members?
We work remotely, but I get all my information sent to me over the Internet. I approve or disapprove information online. It is very interactive, but it is all done remotely. They do meet in person, but I’m very busy and don’t have the time and funds to travel all over the place.
I believe I have noticed that you have posted on other blogs.
I randomly contribute to others. Do you want to know some of the other blogs I read and post on?
The Healthcare IT Guy, Shahid Shah. He got me started. LabSoft News. Dr. Friedman is very good at presenting concepts and I like his highlighting techniques. Dalai’s PACS Blog. He is a radiologist who is a very good blogger. Candid CIO. Will Weider lets us know what’s happening in the real world of healthcare IT, which I enjoy reading, and then I post comments on his blog to educate his readers. Scott Shreeve, MD. I also like Scott’s blog and we’ve seen his HIStalk interview and the numerous posts about him. Christina’s Considerations. Christina is not as well known yet, but she covers RHIOs, a controversial subject today. HealthBlog from Dr. Bill Crounse at Microsoft. He tries to let us know what Microsoft is focusing on next, like Azyxxi.
HIStalk is the best one, right? [laughs]
Of course! Actually, HIStalk is more consistent about their format. There is a lot of interaction with readers. There is Inga, Tim, and other posters, I was so happy when you joined. It made it better.
Thanks. Well, there are some amazing posters. Next question, how is the PACS world going to change over the next few years? What companies will survive and what will the hot technology be?
PACS is becoming a vital modality as far as hospitals are concerned. PACS takes away the cost of X-ray films, which is a very expensive thing. And PACS is expanding to include a mini-EMR through HL7 interfacing techniques and open software solutions.
Everything is going digital. The patients are becoming more involved. Here is a new term – Digitally Connected Patients (DCP). The patients from home will be able to be wirelessly monitored by the hospital. That will be the next big wave over the next 10 years. Patients who live alone with health problems would definitely want to be connected. We’ll actually see that in less than five years. We already have the ability to send heart rate, blood pressure, and other vitals information from remote locations, such as ambulances in route to emergency departments, and also remote digital storage for redundancy.
The infrastructure of companies will change a lot. With EMR companies, they will be bought up or go out of business because everything is going to be Web-enabled. If you are not Web-enabled, you won’t survive. The EMR and PHR will be a partnership involving the patient, hospital, and doctors all submitting information into the combined record. It will be Web-based and a lot of the EMR companies will need to change their business plans to go Web-based, or go out of business, or merge with larger companies.
EMR/PHR will be viewed similar to having an online bank account. You can call up your account any time as long as you have an ID and password. If you can do it in banking, why not do it in medical?
I didn’t mention this earlier, but XML, Extensible Markup Language, will become a big part of how we capture information. Any time you enter information via a Web browser, you can capture it in XML and store it in an EMR or PHR. Currently I can’t talk much more about this because I am in the middle of a patent application. I have developed a new technique for this.
2007 is becoming a year of major transition because a lot of things are happening and it is exciting for the healthcare field.
You have been in this business a long time. Any plans to retire soon?
I love the healthcare field so much that I plan to do software development as long as I can, no matter how old I am. I am not inclined to retire in the immediate future. I love being independent. I have a great group of partners ready to work with me. Being free and independent lets me innovate the way I want to innovate.
Thank you for interviewing me. Hopefully HIStalk readers will enjoy some of my comments and I hope readers will benefit from them in the coming years.